How to Play Multiplayer Pinball

585 436 Pinball Land

Did you know almost all pinball machines can be set up to play up to a 4-player game? Many new players don’t realize this is a possibility, yet it’s very easy to do if you just know how. Take a look at this step-by-step guide to starting and playing a multiplayer game of pinball. It’s more fun to compete!

Adding credits to a pinball machine

If you are playing a pinball machine set to Free Play, like how all of the games at Pinball Land are set, you may disregard this section completely and proceed to “Starting a multiplayer game.”

If the pinball machine you would like to play is set for coin-operated play, you will have to add the appropriate number of credits. In other words, you’ll have to put some money into the game.

If you’ve got a pocket full of quarters, you insert those into the glowing coin slots in the front of the pinball machine. Some pinball machines have a dollar bill acceptor as well. These are also located on the front panel on the metal coin door.

Coin Slot - Illuminated

A typical coin slot on the front of a pinball machine. Feed it quarters to play!

Every game runs on the arcade currency known as credits. You turn dollars into credits in order to play the game.  For example, a typical game costs $1.00 per credit.  If you would like to play a 2-player game, it will cost 2 credits.

Depending on how the pricing of your particular machine is set, you will probably have to insert $2.00 to play 2-player.  If you would like to play a 4-player game, it will probably cost you $4.00.

Pricing Card on a Stern Star Wars pinball machine. $1.00 for 1 credit or $2.00 for 3 credits

The Pricing Card on a Stern Star Wars pinball machine. Look for the Pricing Card on the part called the apron, just to the left of the shooter lane.

Some pinball machines have a special deal when buying multiple credits at once – such as the popular “Super Value” $2.00 for 3 credits deal.  Check the Pricing Card located just inside the machine to the left of the shooter lane for the pricing on any modern pinball machine.

Playing multiplayer pinball really starts to add up! That’s why arcades that offer a free play environment, like Pinball Land, are such a great deal. At arcades like Pinball Land, you can bring your friends and play multiplayer games all night long for one flat rate.  It’s also a great way to practice your skills and learn a lot about the different games without the pressure of paying for every attempt.

A row of excellent pinball machines, all set to FREE PLAY

At an arcade where the games are set to FREE PLAY, you can practice your skills and host multiplayer games without having to pay upwards of $1.00 per game, per player.


Starting a multiplayer game

Starting a multiplayer game is almost exactly the same as starting a single-player game – you just push the start button! Push the button once for each player playing the game. (For more information on starting a game, take a look at this article.)

Start Button on an Iron Maiden pinball machine

The big, green start button on Stern’s Iron Maiden pinball machine. If this is glowing, it means the game has credits and is ready to play!

For example, if you would like to play a 2-player game, you press the start button twice. Want to host a 4-player competition? Press the start button 4 times.

You can tell it’s working because with each button press the scoring display will add another set of “00” digits. Whether it’s on a dot matrix display or an alpha-numeric display, a new set of “00” will show up for each player added.

4 player DMD No Fear pinball

A 4-player game properly set up and ready to play on William’s No Fear pinball.

Playing multiplayer pinball

Before anyone steps up to the machine, assign as a group who is to be Player 1, Player 2 and so on. Don’t forget!

Start with Player 1. When a player drains their ball, after the end-of-ball bonus meltdown, and after any earned Extra Balls, play moves to the next player in line. Pay attention to when your ball is officially over! You may have a Ball Save still activated, or may even have an extra ball. You don’t want to be accused of stealing someone’s ball or throwing off the rotation.

Shoot Again insert on an Addams Family pinball machine featuring Uncle Fester

The famous Shoot Again insert on an Addams Family pinball machine, featuring Uncle Fester. The Shoot Again insert is cleverly disguised as a light bulb in Fester’s mouth, that when illuminated, tells the player they have an Extra Ball.

Sometimes a game of multiplayer pinball can take a while, depending on the game and the skill level of the players. Be patient and do not start a game on another machine to pass the time. It’s not just bad etiquette and sort of rude; you’re going to miss out on learning how your opponent is able to keep playing for so long! Watch better players and learn from them.

Playing pinball with more people is even more fun than playing solo. Instead of trying to beat the High Scores on the game, you merely need to beat your friend’s score to have an exciting, fulfilling game. And it’s easy to do once you know how! Multiplayer pinball is a great date idea, a stimulating team building activity, and it’s just plain fun. It’s social, it’s physical, and with a group of inexperienced players, everyone is on the same level.

As the old saying goes, “it’s more fun to compete!”

It's more fun to compete!